The openly Socialist Senator Benie Sanders pressed the NSA on Friday to come clean on whether its highly questionable spying practices extended to members of Congress. “Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., asked in a letter to NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander released from the senator’s office.
Fox News reported:
Sanders, who has introduced legislation to curtail the agency’s spying capabilities, said the United States must be “vigilant and aggressive” in protecting the nation from terrorism, but he also cited U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s recent ruling that certain practices by the NSA are “almost Orwellian.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, responded to Sanders’ letter, saying it’s a question “millions of Americans would like answered.”
On Saturday, the NSA responded to Sanders’ query, saying Congress has “the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons.” Not the most reassuring of answers given the fact that the NSA has been spying on all US persons.
“NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of U.S. persons. Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons,” said the agency in a statement obtained by CNN.
The response goes on to promise the agency will continue to work with Congress on the issues – without ever addressing the senator’s real question.
Via the WaPo:
The answer is telling. We already know that the NSA collects records on virtually every phone call made in the United States. That program was renewed for the 36th time on Friday. If members of Congress are treated no differently than other Americans, then the NSA likely keeps tabs on every call they make as well.
It’s a relief to know that Congress doesn’t get a special carve-out (they’re just like us!). But the egalitarianism of it all will likely be of little comfort to Sanders.”